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Palau Reiterates Stance Vs. Illegal Fishing, Burns Another Boat

Palau destroyed another Vietnamese fishing boat caught poaching in its waters, with the island nation warning that it is imposing a zero tolerance policy against illegal fishing.

On May 25, the blue boat seized last month was set on fire miles of the coast of Palau, sending an even stronger message that it is serious against its fight to combat illegal fishing.

“As I’ve said in the past, we will not tolerate poachers in Palau,” said President Tommy E. Remengesau, Jr. “Now that the Palau National Marine Sanctuary is law, we are developing partnerships, strengthening capabilities, and implementing strategies to protect our resources from illegal fishing.”

The burned boat was a vessel from Vietnam caught poaching near Tobi Island. Authorities located the poachers at the southwest boundaries of the Palau’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

The burned boat was one of the "blue boats" captured by Palau marine law enforcers when it conducted a marine surveillance of its waters last month.

The vessels were reportedly loaded with sea cucumbers, shellfish, turtles, and protected reef fish.

Last year, Palau burned several Vietnamese fishing boats off their coast, AT THAT TIME Remengesau stated, “we will not tolerate any more unsustainable acts. Palau guarantees, you will return with nothing.”

Palau is strengthening its enforcement and surveillance strategy. This month the nation formally adopted a Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS) Plan that details a five-year strategy to combat illegal activity and manage emergency responses in its ocean waters.

The MCS Plan outlines 25 recommendations to be implemented over the next five years, which will aid in the deterrence, detection, interdiction, and prosecutions of illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing violations. The plan will also work to curb illegal drug and human trafficking in Palau’s EEZ.

Palau has adopted a comprehensive surveillance and enforcement plan to protect its National Marine Sanctuary from illegal fishing," said Seth Horstmeyer, a director with The Pew Charitable Trusts' Global Ocean Legacy project. "Pew is partnering with Palau to enhance its monitoring capabilities with our Eyes on the Seas system, cutting edge technology that can help fight illegal fishing."

Last year , President Remengesau signed the Palau National Marine Sanctuary Act into law, fully protecting an area about 500,000 square kilometers in size, or 80 percent of the country’s EEZ.

“By monitoring our ocean from land, on the sea, in the air and from space, we can fight illegal fishing as well as other crimes and make Palau more secure. The Palau National Marine Sanctuary is not just a conservation policy; it is also a national security policy,” concluded Remengesau in a press statement.

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